Republican Collins will stay in US Senate, focused on healthcare

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Susan Collins, R-Maine, greeted members of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce at a Friday morning breakfast, October 13, and before the crowd of approximately 230 business owners, plus television film crews and reporters, she announced that she will not be campaigning for the state's governor's office this coming year. "You are such a person'".

"These are hard times in our country, and the Senate reflects the discord and division that characterize our nation today", she wrote in her remarks.

Collins put an end to months of speculation when she made her announcement at the Samoset Resort in Rockport Friday morning.

A popular figure in Maine, Collins has previously spoken about the appeal of serving as governor, a job that would allow her to "work more directly on job creation".

"I am a congenital optimist, and I continue to believe that Congress can - and will - be more productive", Collins added.

Democratic Chairman Phil Bartlett said Friday that it "doesn't say much for the Maine Republican Party" that Collins would rather stay in D.C. than contend for governor.

U.S. Sen. Angus King says Susan Collins is putting the people of ME first by deciding to remain in the U.S. Senate rather than run for governor.

As one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, Collins' departure would have left a noticeable mark on the politics of the chamber.

Had she run and won the race for governor in 2018, she would have become the first woman in ME to hold the office. Collins won that race and has gone on to win re-election three times, most recently in 2014 when she was re-elected in a relative landslide.

"This decision has not been an easy one", she said. Lisa Murkowski and John McCain - who voted against the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act over the summer.

LePage is an ally of President Donald Trump, whom Collins has publicly criticized in the past. In July, Collins was caught on a hot mic voicing concerns about Trump's understanding of the budget and debt ceiling, as well as responding to a Republican congressman who challenged her to a duel over her position on health care, in part by calling him "unattractive". Gov. Paul R. LePage, a fellow Republican who is barred by term limits from seeking a third term, has been stirring the political pot against her. Ms. Collins, a moderate who has glided to victory in her recent elections, this time faced the likely prospect of bruising and expensive attacks from the right. King and Collins, of course, now serve together in the Senate.

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